A sentimental favourite at the start of war in 1914, Your King and Country Want You was penned by Paul Rubens.

Rubens had established himself in the pre-war years as the author of numerous popular musical shows including Mr Popple (of Ippleton) (1905), The Dairymaids (1906), Miss Hook of Holland (1907) and The Sunshine Girl (1912).

It was written as a “Woman’s Recruiting Song” to be sung with the intention of persuading men to volunteer to fight in the War in 1914. The profits from its sale were to be given to “Queen Mary’s Work for Women Fund”.

The veteran theatrical performer Vesta Tilley often performed the song at recruitment rallies; men who declined to enlist at the end of these were invariably handed white feathers by children chosen for the task.

Propaganda techniques – such as nationalism and pride – were used and it was successful because the song evoked strong emotions of pride. Young men would think that they would be a disappointment if they did not go to war. In order to not feel like a failure and/or disappointment men would enlist. Men would feel as if they had to to be true citizens of Britain. The song was very successful.

 

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